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Big Joe and Primo Oval XL experience

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Hi guys, I know kamado comparisons have been beaten to death in this forum, but I guess I'll give it one more stab. :-D  Not sure if this was the correct forum for it, but didn't find any others that looked more relevant.

 

Actually (hoping for this to be unique), I wanted to ask if any of you have owned (or still own) BOTH a Kamado Joe Big Joe and a Primo Oval XL.  From what I hear, they're both amazing cookers at a similar price point (included accessories with KJ taken into account), so I wanted to see who of you has experience cooking with each, and what you like about each of them and what needs improvement (in your opinion) for each.  I like Kamado Joe's warranty, included accessories, marginally larger cooking surface, and thicker shell; but I like that the Primos are made in the US, and its oval shape that provides better two-zone cooking.  Thinking of upgrading to full-ceramic from my Akorn (which I still really enjoy) with my tax return money. :)

 

I'm not trying to start any fights between the kamado tribes.  I've read lots about each of these on the other threads, but would enjoy recommendations and insight from people who own or have been able to cook on each of these great grills.  Thanks!

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I have cooked on both.  I owned a Primo XL and gave it to a friend when I got my KK BB 32 aka TheBeast.  Until then, the Primo was my love.  It is so simple to operate and it was the first kamado with true two-zone cooking capability.  I have cooked on several KJ Big Joes since then and KJ has built an amazing cooker.  I'll tell you that no matter which cooker you choose, you won't be disappointed.  Both cook equally as well.

 

I think that where KJ has an edge is in the warranty and customer service area.  No questions asked, KJ makes things right even when they weren't wrong.  Primo does indeed have an outstanding warranty and great customer service, but i think based on my experience with Primo and my friends' experiences with KJ, KJ has an ever so slight lead.  

 

I also like the fact that KJ isn't an a la carte purchase.  You get the basics you need to do a low n slow cook right out of the box if I'm not mistaken.  That is decidedly not the case with Primo last time I checked.  To some folks that's a big point in favor of the KJ.

 

Finally, I do like Primo's oval shape more so than that of the round KJ.  I can fit more food to be cooked on the Primo Oval than I can the round KJ.  And when I'm feeding a lot of people at a big party, I like to be able to load up the cooker.  I've done two more pork butts on the Oval than my buddies with the Bog Joe for a charity event.  

 

Look, no matter which cooker you chose, Primo or KJ, you're going to get a cooker that is first rate in its ability to cook anything just the way you want.  You'll get great customer service.  You'll get ooohs and aaahs from you family and friends every meal you cook for them.

 

At the end of the day, you're not going to go wrong choosing one over the other.  I've recommended the KJ lineup to many friends.  Nobody has been disappointed.  I've also recommended the Primo to several friends and not one of them has a single bad thing to say about the Primo. Make certain that you can get local service and support for either cooker.  Know your dealer.

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@CeramicChef, thanks for your thoughts.  Was wondering if the oval shape would inrease effective cooking area, which it sounds like it does.  And while I have you on the line, I'll drop my guard entirely and let you try and sell me on Komodo Kamado.  I haven't researched them too much yet simply because they've been so far above my price point, but now that I'm thinking about it I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on it too, including the differences between Beauty and TheBeast and fuel consumption comparisons.  Thanks again.

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21 minutes ago, zero said:

@CeramicChef, thanks for your thoughts.  Was wondering if the oval shape would inrease effective cooking area, which it sounds like it does.  And while I have you on the line, I'll drop my guard entirely and let you try and sell me on Komodo Kamado.  I haven't researched them too much yet simply because they've been so far above my price point, but now that I'm thinking about it I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on it too, including the differences between Beauty and TheBeast and fuel consumption comparisons.  Thanks again.

C.C. I as well would love to hear comparisons of all three. That would be some great reading. If you get some free time it would be appreciated.

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@zero - I[m not going to try and sell you on the Komodo Kamado.  That happens naturally by you wanting the ultimate experience in Kamado Kooking.  That happens by you going to the KK Forum and Website and exploring.  That ultimately happens by calling Dennis Linkletter, owner of KK, and being a dialogue with him.

 

What I will do is tell you why everyone raves about the KK experience.  Simply put, there is no finer kamado available in the world at this point.  The product is simply superior to every other kamado on every single dimension you can name.  The customer service is unparalleled.  The beauty of a KK is not to be believed until you behold one with your own eyes!  The biggest problem potential owners have is picking the color scheme they want; it's like being a kid in a candy store with an unlimited budget.

 

Let's begin with airflow.  Airflow is where the whole story begins.  In the technical sense, air is a fluid and all fluids will follow the path of least resistance.  the KK is designed to force all the entering air up through the charcoal load.  Every other kamado's design is faulty in the sense that air can flow through the kamado in a myriad of ways.  In a conventional kamado I'd say the majority of airflow is around the charcoal, not through it as is the case with the KK.  This means that there is, ceterus paribus, more airflow through the conventional kamado.  Air is the enemy of a moist cook.  So, with the KK, you need less airflow to maintain a given air temp in your kamado.  Less airflow means a moister cook than can be obtained in any other type of cooker.  Kamados as a class are more efficient air handlers than offsets, kettles, etc. and the KK is the most efficient kamado.

 

To make my point, kamados are very efficient in terms of their burn rate, i.e. the rate of charcoal consumption.  The stories are legion among KK owners of how little charcoal is burned to maintain a low and slow cook.  I've personally maintained a 350F cook for a ridiculous time, something like 38 hours.  There are well attested stories of KK owners maintaining 250F for something like 80 hours.  The KK is so well insulated and so efficient in the way it handles airflow that people are simply amazed at the efficiency of the unit.

 

Even the smallest dimension receives the utmost attention.  Temperature control in a KK is so simple that most new owners are amazed.  The whole experience is very tacit.  I tell the new kamado owner here to spend a weekend day with a bag of charcoal, a case of beer, and their favorite tunes learning the response curve of their kamado to changes in vent settings.  Vent settings with the KK are quite simple to lean, know, and understand.  A little change goes a LONG way.  That gets back to how the KK handles airflow.

 

The amount of refractory in a KK is simply amazing.  Refractory acts to dampen out temperature transients.  Once you have heat soaked a KK, that temp is locked in for the duration of the cook..  Airflow (that's where it all begins) is so low that big temp swings simply don't happen.  And because of the vent systems of the KK, wind gust really aren't that much of a problem as can be the case with more conventional kamados.

 

I could go on and on, but at the end of the day, the KK is an optimized system that has been completely thought out.  It is self-consistent in that every dimension is congruent and  self reinforcing.  And it all begins with airflow.  Everything about the KK is based on that most critical dimension.  Yes, the KK is visually stunning and it is a conversation piece in any gathering.  That's just an added bonus.  Yes, the KK is built like a tank.  That is for a reason ... mass at temp means very little problems throughout the cook.  Customer service is hands down the best in the industry.  No disputing that.  But at the end of the day, the KK is for those cooks who demand the best and will settle for nothing less.

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I'll chime in here. I've owned primo oval, bge XL, and cooked on big joe. All excellent cookers, they're not known as the big three for nothing. The primo is interesting, in that the oval design has the advantages already spoken of, but, the firebox design is my least favorite. If it cracks, (it probably will), it can crumble, making the cooker unusable until it's replaced. The other two, not so much.

I have two KK's, (see where I'm going here?). I won't try to add to CC's description, except for, once you lay your hands on a KK, you get it, and if you ever go back to another cooker, you really get it.


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On 4/4/2017 at 4:53 PM, CeramicChef said:

I think that where KJ has an edge is in the warranty and customer service area.  No questions asked, KJ makes things right even when they weren't wrong.  Primo does indeed have an outstanding warranty and great customer service, but i think based on my experience with Primo and my friends' experiences with KJ, KJ has an ever so slight lead.  

 

I also like the fact that KJ isn't an a la carte purchase.  You get the basics you need to do a low n slow cook right out of the box if I'm not mistaken.  That is decidedly not the case with Primo last time I checked.  To some folks that's a big point in favor of the KJ.

 

Finally, I do like Primo's oval shape more so than that of the round KJ.  I can fit more food to be cooked on the Primo Oval than I can the round KJ.  And when I'm feeding a lot of people at a big party, I like to be able to load up the cooker.  I've done two more pork butts on the Oval than my buddies with the Bog Joe for a charity event.  

 

Look, no matter which cooker you chose, Primo or KJ, you're going to get a cooker that is first rate in its ability to cook anything just the way you want.  You'll get great customer service.  You'll get ooohs and aaahs from you family and friends every meal you cook for them.

 

At the end of the day, you're not going to go wrong choosing one over the other.  I've recommended the KJ lineup to many friends.  Nobody has been disappointed.  I've also recommended the Primo to several friends and not one of them has a single bad thing to say about the Primo. Make certain that you can get local service and support for either cooker.  Know your dealer.

 

I have not cooked on a Primo XL. I was intent on buying one until I discovered KJ. I did tons of research on it, checking it out several times at a local dealer, scouring craigslist for anyone parting with theirs. I do not think you can compare a Primo XL with the Big Joe. The Classic would be more appropriate in my opinion. @CeramicChef mentioned all of the things which ultimately led me to the Big Joe. Both are excellency made and scream high quality. However, I do have to question one thing- his friend's pork butt loading abilities, LOL.

 

The BJ dwarfs the Oval XL- almost doubling it's cooking capacity. Perhaps, he's referring to just the lower cooking surface? Primo lists in total cooking area as 680 sq. in. (400 lower, 280 upper). KJ lists the Big Joe area as 604 sq in. lower. I've added my custom 22" extension which is another 380 sq in. Conceivably, I could also add another set of grates. I don't know that CC could have replicated this on the Primo.

 

Sorry... hit save instead of insert...

 

 

 

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IMG_2149.JPG

 

That's 22 massive center cut pork chops. If needed, I could have added more... Anyway, Both are indeed wonderfully built cookers. The all inclusive aspect of KJ sealed the deal for me...

 

I realize copied some info incorrectly from the KJ site.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.06.56 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.07.11 PM.png

 

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@Kamado Al - as you note you have not cooked on a Primo XL or  probably even a BGE XL.  I assure you that the Primo XL, The KJ Big Joe, and the BGE XL are all considered direct competitors in spite of your tons of research.  The guys at KJ designed the BJ to go after the BGE XL and the Primo XL as KJ had nothing like the BJ when the BJ was designed.   All three of these grills will cook just about the same quantity of food.  

 

I'm glad you got your KJ BJ and that you like it. It's a quality unit and you'll get many great meals off those grates. Those pork chops do look tasty.  

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